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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Our Lady of Walsingham and Sibling Rivalry

By Thorvaldsson (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0
(], via Wikimedia Commons
Centuries ago, in a Nazarene home, the angel Gabriel spoke words that have echoed through the ages: “Ave Maria…Hail Mary.” A thousand years later, in 1061, the Blessed Mother appeared to a devout woman in a small village in England called Walsingham. In the midst of that heyday of Catholicism in England, Our Lady asked the woman to build a replica of the home where the Annunciation had taken place. With the help of three visions of the interior of that home, and divine intervention, the replica was built and “England’s Nazareth” was born.

By Thorvaldsson (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0
 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Walsingham became an intensely popular site of Medieval pilgrimage in England, until it was destroyed by the overzealous efforts of Reformers at the time of King Henry VIII. In spite of modern day suggestions by Anglicans there is value in refraining from “throwing out the baby with the bathwater”, the original reformers, in my opinion, did just that in the “stripping of the altars ” of Reformation England.  I digress, however, as that is not the point of this post.

In the 1900s a restoration of the shrine was inspired by a priest's visit to the neighboring Slipper Chapel.  There are, at present, both Catholic and Anglican shrines of Our Lady of Walsingham in that small village.  Today, the National Shrine of our Lady in Walsingham is filled with the prayers of both Catholic and Anglican Christians and the masses of both are celebrated there. As the glow of votive candles lit by Christians of all stripes bathes the walls of her chapel, one cannot tell where the light of one votive begins and that of another ends.  There is only devotion and love in a unity of warmth and vibrancy.

My lovely Our Lady of Walsingham peg doll
from Sadie's Saints on Etsy
In that spirit, while respecting the importance of doctrinal differences and truths, I express my hope in your prayer for Christian unity.  I don’t care if the impetus for your prayer is the hope that Anglicans will come home to Rome, that Catholics will recognize the ancient sister validity of the Anglican way and Orders, or that both Catholics and Protestants will be inspired to turn east toward Orthodoxy.  I don’t even care if your prayer for Christian unity is based in a modern Evangelical Protestant's hope that all of the aforementioned traditional Christians will get back on their rockers. I just hope that you will pray it. Join me in doing so, won’t you?  After all, a loving Mother longs for her children to love one another and exist in harmony.


Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.

Pax Christi,

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